I’ve always been the kind of a guy that likes to know the odds. I never bet, but when I go see a baseball game, I want to know what Vegas says about my team’s odds of winning. When I watch the weather, I want the percentage chance of rain. Heck, when I’m simply walking along with my wife, I tend to start conversations with the phrase, “So what do you think the odds are that…?” Most of the time, my wife humors me. On her days with less than pristine patience, she’ll roll her eyes and ask me to hold off on my latest inclinations.
Part of the reason I enjoy percentages, probabilities, estimations, and odds, is because the experts who set these odds often hit the nail on the head. In the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, the odds of a 15-seeded team winning the whole thing, are well, preposterous. Vegas would probably make the odds 10 million to one, mainly because it’s never happened. The odds of it snowing in Cancun on your honeymoon are absolutely ridiculous because that doesn’t happen either.
Our first miscarriage was a shock for both of us. We were both young and ignorant, blind to the possibility that the little heart would stop beating. But after the DNC and our getting a little thicker skin, we entered into our second pregnancy and I wanted to know, “doctor, in your professional opinion, what are the odds this works out?” In other words, what do the statistics say about a woman who can get pregnant but miscarries one time. This doctor assured us, that very similar to our first pregnancy, the odds of miscarriage were 10%. Well, unfortunately for us, the baby died. 0 for 2.
On to pregnancy number three. This time I debated sparing my wife from hearing the question, but I just had to know, “Doc, so what are the odds?”
“Well, you guys are in a little higher risk category because of your other miscarriages, but given that we have worked out some of your wife’s iron deficiencies, etc., I would say really good odds.”
“Give me a number.”
“Oh, alright, I’d say 80 percent.”
I thought that wasn’t too bad. If you take two times at 90% odds, and once at 80%, the probability that one works out is like, well, I’m not a mathematician, but there really good!
The baby died.
On to our fourth and final pregnancy, “Doctor, I really want you to shoot straight with me. What are the chances on this one?” She mumbled something about 50/50.
When our fourth baby died and we went on to embryo adoption, I wanted the chances for each and every embryo transfer attempt. They were, according to the doctor 50%, 50%, and 50%. But all the embryos either died or did not implant.
Let’s just say you had 7 chances at something, with 50% odds. Supposedly, our odds with the miscarriages were much better, but for the sake of simplicity, let’s say you took a coin and flipped it 7 times, what are chances that it lands heads 7 times in a row? Not very good. I’m guessing less than 1%. Maybe you’re good at math and can help me out.
Can you get any unluckier than us? I suppose it’s possible. But with our bad luck, I bet that the odds aren’t that high.